Driving under the influence (DUI) carries varying penalties in California. The law is designed to increase the punishments for prior offenders and to enhance penalties for what are referred to as aggravating circumstances. Most people are aware of the administrative penalty for a DUI conviction which involves the suspension or revocation of your driver license. However, when another person is injured, a child passenger is endangered, or if someone dies as a result of a DUI behavior, the consequences of a guilty verdict can be particularly harsh.
Despite the penalties, you are innocent until proven guilty. Depending on the circumstances of your case, there may be various defenses available to fight your charge. It is critical if you are charged with a DUI-related offense that you secure the services of a DUI attorney to provide legal advice and representation.
Some of the common defenses that may be used in a DUI case include:
There Was No Impairment
The prosecution will produce evidence from the police officer or an eyewitness about the manner in which you were driving. Normally, people will associate certain types of driving behavior with someone who is under the influence. While this evidence is necessary when there are no chemical test results to rely on, driving poorly is not exclusive to drunk people. Your lawyer will be able to cross-examine the eyewitness about possible ways you were driving that were consistent with the law. The fact of the matter is that sober people can be poor drivers and, accordingly, not all poor drivers are driving under the influence.
Separate from how you may have been driving, the prosecution may show evidence of your physical state at the time that you were stopped by the police. Red, watery eyes, slurred speech, and the presence of a strong odor of alcohol or drugs are some of the observations that can be presented as evidence that you were driving under the influence. In many instances, there are valid and legal reasons for the existence of any of these observations and an experienced California DUI defense lawyer will be able to rebut this type of evidence.
The prosecution may also put forward as evidence of your impairment your inability to pass roadside field sobriety tests. However, these tests can be unreliable and a good defense lawyer can contest the interpretation of your results. Balance and coordination might be impaired for medical, physical, or other reasons. There are also certain prescribed procedures to be followed when administering a roadside sobriety test that if not followed can create results easily contested at trial or cause the dismissal of the charges.
Inaccurate Chemical Testing
A police officer will generally administer a blood or breath test to determine your blood alcohol content (BAC). A BAC of .08 or higher will be used to support the DUI charge against you. While the results of such testing are relied upon by the prosecution, there are a number of circumstances that cause an inaccurate result.
- Breathalyzers may not meet calibration and testing standards
- There is contamination of blood samples
- Medicine or certain medical conditions can result in high BAC
In addition to these potential issues, there are established procedures to be followed by the police officer in relation to administering and recording the results of chemical testing for DUI. Breach of the procedures can weaken the prosecution’s case against you. Having a qualified lawyer carry out the necessary pre-trial investigation can unearth procedural issues that lay the foundation to have your charges dismissed or have you plead to a lesser offense like a wet reckless violation.
In addition to following established procedures relating to the administration of chemical and sobriety tests, the police must follow the law as it relates to stopping and arresting you in a DUI matter. One such legal requirement is that the police must have probable cause to pull you over. The other is the reading of your rights before the commencement of your interrogation.
It is important that you understand your rights when stopped, arrested, and questioned by a police officer for DUI. When in doubt, it is important to remain silent and request to speak to an attorney. Nevertheless, a breach of your constitutional rights can be a good basis for a defense.
A Qualified California DUI Defense Lawyer Can Help
McElfresh Law is dedicated to providing high-quality legal representation to individuals charged with DUI in California. For years, we have used our experience and in-depth knowledge to secure the freedom and protect the rights of many. Our lawyers are committed to criminal defense advocacy and will work to prepare a sound defense whatever the charge.
Call us today at (858) 756-7107 and let us be your criminal defense lawyer of choice.